I live in the hills about 10 minutes northeast of L.A. I love these hills because although L.A. is often seen as a concrete jungle, packed with nondescript apartment buildings and even blander looking houses, in my neighborhood the vast ecosystem that crisscrosses the city thrives and provides dramatic and unexpected moments.
A few nights ago, I was driving home when a giant bird dove past my front windshield and across the four lane road leading to my house. The bird’s light underbelly caught my attention and I watched as it landed on the hillside, picked something up, and started to fly back in its original direction. As if in slow motion, the bird turned and looked at me as it flew off. In that moment, I recognized the round circles around its eyes as those of an owl.
Almost every other night, seemingly suicidal rabbits dart across the streets in my neighborhood. They sit in the middle of the street and, I swear, they wait for just the moment my car drives by to dart into my car’s path. So far, I’ve managed to avoid all of the rabbits, but when the twentieth rabbit darts out in front of you, you’ve got to wonder whether they have a death wish.
On late night walks, I’ve also had the chance to watch as families of coyotes appear. Fortunately, I have never witnessed their ferocity. It is only later that I hear the wailing sounds that accompany the capture of prey.
Sitting by the television, I’m always amused by clans of skunks that walk by large, family room windows.
And, finally, if there’s a bump in the night, I laugh because it’s more likely to be an opossum on the roof, instead of a human threat.
There’s probably some great meaning to be drawn from this proximity of humans and wild animals, but for now, I’ll selfishly just enjoy that I’m fortunate enough to see this side of a city where one side of a hill can be dotted with fast food restaurants, mini malls, and other knick knackery, while another can foster the natural beauty of wildlife.
© Laura Genao 2006